Benjamin Carr - Sums
- Artist: Benjamin Carr
- Album: Sums
- Label: Indie
- Year of Release: 2009
- ME Rating:
- Reviewed by: solitaryman on 2011-10-26
After spending some time with Sums, by someone I consider a bit of a virtuoso of multi-instrumental DIY ingenuity, I almost wish I had taken these albums on in the proper chronological order. Oakleaf (Ben's most recent solo release) feels like a natural evolution to Sums' more experimental, diverse, jam-oriented concoctions. More like a collection of musical ideas, brainstorms and jams than an actual collection of songs, Sums will take the adventuring listener far, but may leave some behind at times.
"Amiable Fellow" has a smoky, jazz club vibe to it, understated and classy but at the same time outwerdly excitable and damn near headbang-worthy in spots. Very well structured and performed, an ideal choice for an opening track. "An Odd Test" is a swirling percussion piece, showcasing the technical prowess Ben possesses behind a kit. "Winter Complete" is where things start to venture into unfamiliar territory. After a brief, atmospheric intro, a very...disturbing...wall of sound is abruptly erected. And then, just as fast, a groovy little salsa-inspired bit pops up, which eventually melds back into the ambiance that the whole ordeal began with. Mind-boggling to be sure, but each section does offer something unique. "Among Friends", to me, shows us where Ben is truly at home; strumming inspiring, beautiful melodies from his ukelele. The avant-garde nature of the title track is actually quite mesmerizing, a mashing together of jazz, techno and world beats that lends credence to Ben's inherent ability to graft something mallable and memorable out of a literal hodge-podge of sounds and ideas.
The remainder of the album offers everything from lessons in hypnotic percussion, an extended Hendrix-esque electric guitar jam, another lovely uke-centric track with whom I take it to be Ben giving his vocal chords a rare chance to shine, and he certainly adds some flair to the mix. The majority of the middle of Sums is taken up by what I take to be various types of musical experimentations, which is cleverly book-ended by a handful of excellent "proper" song compositions. My hat's off to Ben Carr as he's quite obviously willing to express all the elements of his musical spirit, whether or not they conform to traditional structures or limitations. This is in the true essence of creativity, after all, and whether or not you end up enjoying Sums does nothing to detract from that. But, I think, if you bring your attention span and an open ear, you will in fact love what you hear.
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